Country superstar Dolly Parton went to Washington on Tuesday 27th February to hand-deliver her 100 millionth book donation for children to the Library of Congress through her foundation, the Imagination Library.
“When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true. I know there are children in your community with their own dreams. They dream of becoming a doctor, or an inventor, or a minister. Who knows, maybe there is a little girl whose dream is to be a writer and singer. The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”
Launched in 1995, the core aim of the project is to give free books to children from birth until the age of five in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. As of writing this, there are 1,212,915 children registered who receive, at no cost to their family, an age-appropriate book every month. Audio and Braille books are both included too to ensure that no child is left out.
“Before he passed away, my Daddy told me the Imagination Library was probably the most important thing I had ever done. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me because I created the Imagination Library as a tribute to my Daddy. He was the smartest man I have ever known but I know in my heart his inability to read probably kept him from fulfilling all of his dreams.
“Inspiring kids to love to read became my mission. In the beginning, my hope was simply to inspire the children in my home county but here we are today with a worldwide program that gives a book a month to well over 1 million children. Of course, I have not done this alone. The real heroes of our story are the thousands of local organisations who have embraced my dream and made it their own. They raise millions of dollars each year and wake up every day with a passion to make sure their kids have every opportunity to succeed.
“It’s been quite a journey but we have so much more left to do. I would love for your community to join our family so please take the time to explore our website. Let’s share this dream that all children should grow up in a home full of books. The first step is always the hardest, but you’ll never know unless you try.”